Saturday, May 24, 2008

Burma Cyclone

Timing is critical because the aftermath of Burma's cyclone could kill more than a million people in the next few weeks. The UN estimates that at least 100,000 have already died and 220,000 more are missing. Even before the natural disaster, Burma had the second worst health system in the world and suffered from what UNICEF called, a "silent humanitarian emergency."

Now in the wake of the cyclone, the desperate cries are louder. Those who have survived lost their houses. Without shelter or a viable source of income, survivors are dying slowly from malnutrition, diarrhea, cholera, and other infectious diseases.

Yet in the face of immense suffering, there is hope. The courage and compassion of the Burmese people find strength in the local volunteers who refuse to let the desperate cries for aid grow louder. Expatriate Burmese physicians are flocking home to aid in a quiet relief effort. Local church groups house and feed the refugees who lost their homes in the storm. Senior monks have also joined the cause, gaining access to the hardest hit regions such as Bogale to distribute food, water, and medicine. Even though volunteers do not have much themselves, thousands of people across Burma are donating whatever they can to the victims of the cyclone.

Working through vast community networks, these Burmese groups can reach victims inaccessible to international aid workers. Your donation is crucial to their work. Please visit the following websites to donate to local relief efforts and ensure that 100% of your donation reaches the victims:

1. Better Burmese Health Care (http://www.betterburmesehealthcare) : Eight teams consisting of 20 doctors & 20 non medical volunteers are providing acute medical care as well as surveillance to prevent outbreak of infectious diseases. To date we have treated over 2000 patients. We are also focusing on heavily damaged areas in the Delta region where there has been little or no assistance. We are closely collaborating with our partners both inside and outside Burma. This will allow for distribution of Water Purification tabs and Anti Malaria & Cholera, other essential medications & other basic necessities.

2. Burmese Buddhist Association ( : Working through a monastic network that extends everywhere in Burma, monks can gather volunteers and distribute food, medical supplies, construction equipment, clothes, water and other necessities to victims of the cyclone.

3. Burma Relief Network ( BRN is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care, medical education & training, relief and development programs in Burma/Myanmar. In lieu of large NGOs and organizations, BRN takes advantage of local physicians and nurses through pre-established professional networks to reach those needing immediate medical care. Operating in the delta region outside of Yangon, these local physicians will be sent to different villages in small mobile teams, utilizing their familiarity with the region and tropical medicine to give the most effective medical care and aid.

The greatest obstacle to distributing aid in Burma is the barring of aid workers (both foreign and Burmese) in entering affected regions and the repossession of aid supplies. This will be bypassed by the fact that the program will be using physicians and healthcare personnel already outside of Yangon. Mobile teams also possess familiarity and experience in the country and the delta region; these groups will be able to get in and out of the most-affected villages to treat those who most need medical care. The advantage of familiarity also enables more informed decisions when dealing with medical aid distribution and health care prioritization.

Field/Mobile Teams:

  • Led by experienced local Physicians
  • Equipped with minor surgery, orthopedic supplies, IV fluids and antibiotics
  • Able to see 120 - 150 patients a day
  • Composed of 6-8 members
  • Equipped with all necessities to function in a remote area
  • Managed by experienced physicians and professionals supported by BRN

Please email: to join our mailing list and receive updates about the relief efforts in Burma. Although individually we cannot help the thousands of orphans and families who lost their livelihoods, we can join our efforts to help rebuild communities in Burma. The scale of the disaster affects millions of lives and requires our long term support.


Kieran Conroy said...

I will, unfortunately be on a plane returning from Korea during the event... it will, however be in my prayers and I would like to be kept appraised of any future fundraisers. Is there a way to make a donation separately?

There was an excellent article on the roll of Burmese Monks in supporting the people this plast week in the NY Times- I will try and post it.

frances said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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